North Carolina’s passage of the bill HB2, nicknamed the “Charlotte bathroom bill,” has triggered many companies to consider their presence in the state and how, if at all, they will enforce the new law.
Under the law, transgender people who have not taken surgical and legal steps to change the gender noted on their birth certificates have no legal right to use public restrooms based on the gender with which they identify. However, private businesses are allowed to set up their own practices concerning LGBT employees and customers.
In response to the state’s decision, PayPal said Tuesday it has nixed plans to create 400 jobs in what would have been a new global office in Charlotte. Executives at PayPal as well as Google, Twitter and Facebook were among those to sign an open letter last week calling for the repeal of the then-approved bill.
With 13 boutiques and outlet stores in the state, Brooks Brothers, which also makes shirts in Garland, N.C., among other locations, does not plan to change its business practices. A company spokesman reaffirmed an earlier statement Tuesday “that North Carolina’s HB2 is inconsistent with our longstanding values of fairness, equality and respect for all,” according to a company spokesman.
Winston Salem, N.C.-based Hanesbrands also doesn’t plan to change its way of doing business as a result of HB2. A company spokesman said Tuesday, “HB2 will have no effect on how we run our business and our very strong anti-discrimination policies and practices, including protection for sexual orientation and gender identity. We are also a leader in providing employee benefits for our LBGT employees, including medical insurance coverage for gender reassignment surgery. We are proud to lead by example, not only in North Carolina, but in the rest of the country as well. Based on the Human Rights Campaign calculations, only 20 states have antidiscrimination employment protections as robust as our company.”
He continued, “Hanesbrands is proud to be an employer of choice that is committed to treating all employees fairly and maintaining a bias-free workplace. We view our ethnic, cultural and social diversity of our employees as a true asset.”
The Hanesbrands spokesman added, “As a private employer, federal government agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, take the position that we are required to make restrooms accessible to any employee based on his or her declared gender identity.”
Another major fashion employer in the state, Family Dollar, which has 445 stores in North Carolina and 8,100 units nationwide, also plans to maintain its policy of personal preference. A Family Dollar spokeswoman said Tuesday, “In North Carolina, Family Dollar customers are free to use the restroom in any of our stores. If a customer needs to use the public restroom in any of our stores, they simply need to ask a manager or associate to unlock the restroom for them.”
She added, “Each of our associates is trained to open the door of the customer’s choice, and each of our bathrooms are single individual facilities.”
In an e-mail Tuesday, the International Furnishings and Design Association noted that it does not discriminate, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. Noting that diversity in the furnishing and design industry is one of the group’s greatest assets, fellows IFDA president Diane Nicolson said, “We encourage all members of the industry to stand together in unity for the promotion of equality and diversity. We are stronger together than when divided, let us unite people from all ends of the industry and celebrate each other’s uniqueness.”